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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47957. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047957. Epub 2012 Oct 25.

Diversity, molecular characterization and expression of T cell receptor γ in a teleost fish, the sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax, L).

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Department for Innovation in Biological, Agro-Food and Forest Systems, University of Tuscia, Largo dell'Università, Viterbo, Italy.


Two lineages of T cells, expressing either the αβ T cell receptor (TR) or the γδ TR, exist in Gnathostomes. The latter type of T cells account for 1-10 % of T cells in blood and up to 30 % in the small intestine. They may recognize unconventional antigens (phosphorylated microbial metabolites, lipid antigens) without the need of major histocompatibility class I (MH1) or class II (MH2) presentation. In this work we have described cloning and structural characterization of TR -chain (TRG) from the teleost Dicentrarchus labrax. Further, by means of quantitative PCR analysis, we analyzed TRG expression levels both in poly I:C stimulated leukocytes in vitro, and following infection with betanodavirus in vivo. Two full length cDNAs relative to TRG, with the highest peptide and nucleotide identity with Japanese flounder, were identified. A multiple alignment analysis showed the conservation of peptides fundamental for TRG biological functions, and of the FGXG motif in the FR4 region, typical of most TR and immunoglobulin light chains. A 3D structure consisting of two domains mainly folded as beta strands with a sandwich architecture for each domain was also reported. TRG CDR3 of 8-18 AA in length and diversity in the TRG rearrangements expressed in thymus and intestine for a given V/C combination were evidenced by junction length spectratyping. TRG mRNA expression levels were high in basal conditions both in thymus and intestine, while in kidney and gut leukocytes they were up-regulated after in vitro stimulation by poly I:C. Finally, in juveniles the TRG expression levels were up-regulated in the head kidney and down-regulated in intestine after in vivo infection with betanodavirus. Overall, in this study the involvement of TRG-bearing T cells during viral stimulation was described for the first time, leading to new insights for the identification of T cell subsets in fish.

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